Korean War film premiers at Fort Stewart
June 11, 2010
<b>FORT STEWART, Ga. </b>- "They have faced the crucible of combat and learned a lifetime's experience about love, loss, valor, and sacrifice in a short intense period of time," said 3rd Infantry Division Commander, Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, at Fort Stewart's Woodruff Theater, June 5.
Referring to the Outpost Harry Survivors Association and the battles on that key terrain during the Korean War, Maj. Gen. Cucolo took time out of his Environmental and Morale Leave from Iraq to address attendees at the premiere of motion picture "Hold At All Costs."
"Though every war is different, Soldiering in the American Army at war has some common denominators," Maj. Gen. Cucolo later said. "It is always humanity against inhumanity. It is an affair of the heart for those fighting it. And the classic 'Americans Never Quit' attitude comes from a deep, deep commitment to each other."
Major General Cucolo's words were like echoes from an earlier event at the Fort Stewart Museum. During their installation tour, the OPHSA, Family and friends visited Warriors Walk, shared lunch with Soldiers at the Vanguard Dining Facility and visited the museum.
While touring the museum, survivor Jerry Cunningham was shown the Outpost Harry display by Museum Director Walter Meeks.
The display stirred Cunningham into recalling an event that occurred nearly 60 years ago (See story below).
The movie "Hold at All Costs" started off, according to Director Glenn Palmedo-Smith, as a project for the Outpost Harry Survivors Association; however, after interviewing several of the veterans, it quickly became apparent that the story had a much larger significance.
Palmedo-Smith said he wanted to remind people that "freedom is not free," and added that before the experience he didn't consider himself pro-veteran or anti-veteran but was pretty much like many people and didn't think about it. He said now that he lived it for two years (while making the movie), every beer he drinks or steak he eats, or similar action, he thinks about how a veteran has made a sacrifice.
"Before this experience, I kept thinking 'How does people dying and fighting in far off lands affect me, and why do I care about them''" Palmedo-Smith said, adding that now he would point to Korea and question, did anyone really win or lose' He said that he believed a seed was planted that altered a course of history, resulting in South Korea blooming into a major industrial leader.
"And it all started 60 years ago with someone standing up and saying 'No, not here," Palmedo-Smith said.
Major General Cucolo said at the movie premier that it is too soon to see if America's efforts in Iraq or Afghanistan would yield similar results, but told the survivors of Outpost Harry that their stand on that hill, their commitment to each other during that brutal nightmare, would not be forgotten.
Meeting the veterans throughout the day, Soldiers and civilians expressed similar feelings about the veterans.
"It is an outstanding experience just to meet these Soldiers who gave me my freedom," said Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Safety Ceremonies Advisor Jeff Fornshell following the Korean War veteran's visit to Warriors Walk. He said the veterans asked many questions about that sacred grove that is Warriors Walk, and appreciated how Soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice are remembered there.
"It is certainly our pleasure and honor to interact with the veterans of the 15th Infantry Division and Outpost Harry," said Lt. Col. Jeff Shoemaker, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment commander at the lunch that followed the visit to Warriors Walk. "They are all great Americans."
Pairing up the veterans from Kilo Company, 15th Infantry Regiment from Outpost Harry, with B Company, 15th Infantry Regiment, their historic lineage unit today, the veterans and Soldiers were provided an opportunity to share a meal and possibly stories about their respective experiences.
Lieutenant Colonel Shoemaker said being able to sit down with the veteran's from Outpost Harry was invaluable.
Private Andrew Le from East Texas, in his sixth month with of service, had the opportunity to sit down with the Outpost Harry veterans, and described the strong feeling of brotherhood shared among Outpost Harry veterans was something he had in common with this fellow Soldiers in B Company, 3/15th Infantry.
"Since I've been here, I've grown to trust the people in my platoon," Pvt. Le said. "I know they have my back."
Sergeant John Carr, a combat veteran who has 13-years prior service with the Marines said meeting the veterans from Outpost Harry was something he'll always remember.
"Talking to them has helped me realize they are a lot like us," Sgt. Carr said, noting although the times were different, the can do attitude was the same. "Like us, they did what they had to do."
"We stand on the shoulders of giants," said 3rd ID Deputy Commanding General-Rear, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips, at the premier. He said we stand on the shoulders of men and women from diverse backgrounds, who go into battle to preserve a higher ideal based on dignity, freedom and rights of man.
Korean War veteran remembers Outpost Harry
When he walked into the Fort Stewart Museum, Korean War veteran Jerry Cunningham told of a day at Outpost Harry where he and some of his fellow Soldiers were tasked to defend Outpost Harry. They were heavily engaged and traveling up the hill amid small arms and artillery fire. He was armed with his Browning Automatic Rifle. The scene was grim with dead and wounded all about.
"On the west side of the hill were some trenches," Cunningham said. "Some parts of the trenches were not caved in, and some was. We were walking on the skyline - just about when three Chinese came down the hill facing me. I kept my B.A.R. in the ready position."
He said as they approached, he called for them to halt. Two immediately bent down, and the third behind threw a grenade. His instincts took over. He hardly realized he'd cut them down with his weapon, then he continued to the top of the hill to clear it.
Cunningham said he and a few other Soldiers finished cleaning up before they had to head back down again. He was able to bring a wounded Soldier with him. Although he was only 140 pounds himself, he was able drag the man to the aid station.
Soon after delivering the Soldier, he was told to take up a position on the parameter with his B.A.R. Not long after setting up, an artillery-round fell near his position.
"When it went off, I didn't pay it any attention," Cunningham said, explaining after hearing it so much at night, he didn't really think about it.
So he kept his position until his buddy, Cpl. Rudolph M. Randall, with whom he'd served since basic training, came to check on him. Checking on each other became a ritual they both exercised since arriving. However, on this occasion Randall notice Cunningham's leg was bleeding, and pointed it out. Cunningham had not realized he had been hit by the shrapnel. Weak with loss of blood, Randall gave him water, and brought him back to the aid station.
Cunningham said he was loaded on a jeep, and others were being added when the jeep fell out of gear and began to roll down the hill. Randall, seeing the pending disaster, ran after the jeep, grabbed hold of the steering wheel and guided it safely off the road into an embankment.
Cunningham thanked his friend, who added he would see him again when it was all over.
"That was the last time I saw him," Cunningham said, but learned his friend never made it off the hill at Outpost Harry. Randall was killed June 14, 1953.